UNODC Statement--Vienna 2012 6th Session (English Version)

CATW, European Women's Lobby, Mediterranean Network Against Trafficking in Women, ROSA October 15, 2012 Vienna


Statement by the Forum for Women and Development (FOKUS), Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), European Women's Lobby (EWL), Mediterranean Network Against Trafficking in Women (MNATW), and ROSA to the Sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

Vienna, Austria, October 15, 2012

In 2000, the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women, often referred to as the Palermo Protocol. In its report on the review of the implementation of the Protocol issued in July this year, the Secretariat summarizes the findings of a multi-country survey of best practices for addressing the demand for labor, services or goods that foster the exploitation of others.

First, we applaud the measures adopted by some countries, such as Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, to address the demand for services that foster the exploitation of others, by criminalizing the purchase of sexual services. This approach is fully in line with Article 9 of the Palermo Protocol and Article 6 of the CEDAW Convention. By criminalizing the purchase of sexual services, governments send a loud and clear message to criminal networks that your country is not open for business to them.  

Some countries have taken the road of addressing demand for sexual services by encouraging men to buy women in prostitution in a so-called responsible manner. The Crime Stoppers Campaign in the Netherlands is such an example. There is no responsible way of buying a human being. Women, and men, are not products or commodities, nor should they be bought and sold as such.

Any interpretation of the Protocol must be coherent with other international UN Human rights treaties, including the 1949 Convention on the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of Prostitution of others, and the CEDAW Convention. We, therefore, commend the resolution adopted by the French Parliament in 2011, which reaffirms the human-rights-based, abolitionist approach to trafficking and prostitution.

Secondly, we wish to address the issue of re-trafficking and re-victimization which tends to be neglected due to national and regional immigration laws of the State parties. The victims often get deported to the transit country or the country of origin. They are misled to believe that they can find help there.  At present, such help is scarce. Too often, we hear stories of women who went back to prostitution in the home or transit country in order to survive. As a result, many of them end up being re-trafficked. Each women who is re-trafficked is a clear symbol of our failure to help them when we had the chance.

Although state parties are in a position to prevent further exploitation of the women identified as victims of trafficking, strict immigration laws and national obligations to regional conventions, such as the Dublin Regulation in Europe, come in the way of it. International conventions, such as the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, should certainly take precedence over regional conventions and national laws.

We call upon the delegates to ensure that women identified as possible victims of trafficking are given primary status as a victim of trafficking, regardless of nationality or legal status in the country. In this manner, the country where the victim is first identified as a victim will be obligated to assume the responsibility for interrupting the trafficking cycle and providing the best possible assistance to the victims.

Our final point concerns the adoption of a monitoring mechanism for the implementation of the Convention and the Protocols thereto, which the Conference will discuss this week.

We believe that such a mechanism would make State parties accountable to both their national constituencies and the international community.  It would require State parties to report on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures that they have put in place to implement the Convention.

We believe that a good model to follow would be the monitoring mechanism established for the CEDAW Convention. Upon considering each State Party's periodic report, the CEDAW Committee formulates concluding comments which outline difficulties affecting the implementation of the Convention for that State Party, positive aspects, and recommendations to enhance the implementation of the Convention. The reporting process is public. NGOs can also participate in this process. By submitting their own reports to the Committee, NGOs help the review committee assess the validity of the reports submitted by States Parties.

We urge the State Parties to adopt implement a solid monitoring mechanism for the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto.